Let’s Talk About Conservation
-Fred Stock

          Just returned from the Post Office. I realized the gasoline spent on this one activity is huge in the course of a year, but it gives me the ability to send and receive my mail and send my outgoing packages for the business in secure and convenient ways. And of course, that’s ME so I can excuse that waste! And what about the fistful of newsprint in full color that goes from the carrier’s hand to my hand to the trash can without one second spent to see what “they” are selling. It’s 100% waste and ought to be outlawed. I can’t stop the major corporations from rewarding their top executives with millions of dollars for getting us into the financial crisis we are experiencing, but I can save a few thousand a year if I do something at this grassroots level. (Maybe I can replace the grass and the roots with rock and cactus to conserve water. Hmmm!)

          Now let’s talk about conservation. I know it’s a pain in the neck to stand in 120-degree heat or the gales of fall sand storms and separate the trash into reusable and garbage. Now we have four barrels, green for grass cuttings, brown for garbage, and gray for general recycle, and now blue, the one we use to save plastic bottles for the recycler behind the Lucky market. (The grandkids have discovered that endeavor, so we never see the "cash for plastic" returns, but that's just another way to love 'em.) But you know, the cities are required to get that percentage down, and this isn’t all that difficult. What we need, though, is a kitchen trash can that has a split chamber… one side for recycle and one for garbage. Then there is the possible reuse of food stuffs as compost. I’m no expert but I understand most of our true garbage is excellent when prepared in a simple process and returned to the soil. You get vegetables and fruits back on serendipity too! A friend says he has a shade cover in his yard for growing food all year long, even here! Yikes!

          How about the traffic lights. It has hit me many times that we waste thousands of dollars worth of gasoline stopping at lights which if engineered more intelligently, could be avoided. I also trust the judgment of the human animal enough to be willing to try “yield” signs in less busy intersections. Except for Friday evening going home – that’s a scary time at ANY corner. But think about the amount of energy consumed by stopping twelve, fifteen, thirty times, and resuming speed for another two blocks. Who programs these things? Perhaps a work release program at the zoo? Eii-Chimminneee!

          Then there’s the “paper or plastic” at the market. I’m supposed to choose and tell the checker/bagger. Meanwhile those cloth bags I purchased are carefully folded in the trunk, and I place the plastic bags on top of them like a moron! Whats-a-mattah-me? The municipalities in some places are outlawing both paper and plastic! Why? Drive down the freeway and look at the shoulders! Ick!

           Actually, lately Barbara and I have begun to remember them before we go into the market! New game: Trying to figure how many to take into the store. If you figure a week's groceries, you'll need how many, two or three? WRONG! More like seven! Also the cloth bags are larger and the kid in the store fills them like he does the old plastic ones. That means each bag weighs about 300 pounds! Yikes!  Oh, another cool game, see how many competitive store brands you can get into that cluster of cloth bags in the trunk. They're all brightly printed with the store logos. I take diverse please in walking into a Ralph's market with bags from Trader Joe's, Henry's, Albertsons, Von's and Safeway.

          Don’t even get me started on the wrapping and packaging of the ink for my desktop printer. There is little doubt that chaotic contrivance is the work of a vast some-wing conspiracy. Think of the amount of OIL wasted on making the plastic wrap and plastic sleeves to package 13 milliliters of ink! And a case of the paper cartons around them represents a goodly portion of a tree too! When will somebody invent a refillable cartridge that I can replenish without coloring both hands for a week – you know, about when they need replenished yet again! Great Gooba-Jooba!

          We live in an insane era. We have to have homes that we cannot afford, and an SUV that could tow a small freight train, in order to take us to the market – which if the truth be told, is within easy walking distance of the house and the few groceries we will buy will be enough to load up a little two wheel carrier we could pull behind us. We buy twice the amount of groceries we need, in prepared little packs covered with plastic shrink wrap, and not nearly as good as the local fresh stuff, because the packaged stuff came from 4000 miles away and maybe grown last year and picked green! Not to mention the pesticides and growth chemistry and preservatives to which it may have been subjected. How ya’ gonna know? Then they sit in the refrigerator (wasting electricity) until they go bad, and we throw them out, sometimes still in the hermetically sealed pack! But we hafta have everything year round regardless of the season! Insane!

          Now I know I cannot protest and wave my little political fist until I get off the spot and start practicing what I preach. Maybe my writing this and you reading it will inspire one of us to actually DO something. How’d they say that? “What a country!”